Excerpt: 'Death Industrial Complex' by Candice Wuehle


ribcage ii:

my main fear was of putting on a blonde wig and a pair of white gloves and disappearing. my main fear was that i wouldn’t get my cult one half hour in front of the camera before the editirix knew they were dead. vince, i did you a service. i  made way for the cellophane dress. i had a good argument for the difference  between a corpse bride and a twin. i had to struggle. all the hosiery in the world conspires to debauch nature, to draw a scrim across the inner light. i had to struggle not to turn into another shape shaped like other shapes. i had to struggle to stay married to my vision of myself.

night wedding; brute cartography maps the boundaries between us and others. be better than that. be able to become the border if that’s the only way to know what i was seeing. i could count the bones of my own ribs.

inside us all there is a skeleton. the editrix was always trying to tell my cult to let themselves dissolve, to winnow. to spread their femur bones open and invite the subscribers to see what was inside them, to see how hollow they had become. all corpses are equally beautiful but it is possible to be the body you want to see on the catwalk. you can turn on their idea of anatomy. i had to struggle to teach that shape is relative to all but the shaper. to put forth the proof that proved fashion is an idea about geometry and that geometry is a translation of water and that we are already born from a watershed.

i had to prove it is possible to resist symmetry. that a wig cap is a better signifier than a wig. that a ball of blonde hair is also stunning deep in a drain. or even, is still there. i like to think of the shopping mall stuffed with women falling under a spell, a small seizure, so that they can take a minute to turn to one another and see themselves. so that they can feel the work of the editrix and know they are not alone, know they are all connected by the tips of their white gloves by one braid braided each by each until the world is smooth and marketable. clean finish. pure as nothing. i made way for the cellophane dress. i like to think of my cult shearing through the crowd. a black blade through a wedding dress. the relief of meeting a couturier. of letting the lace of my bones fall

in front of everyone. anti-­‐thing. shocked water.

Excerpted from Death Industrial Complex, by Candice Wuehle, forthcoming.

About the Author:

Candice Wuehle is the author of the full-length collection BOUND (Inside the Castle Press, 2018) and the chapbooks VIBE CHECK (Garden Door Press, 2017), curse words: a guide in 19 steps for aspiring transmographs (Dancing Girl Press, 2014) and EARTH*AIR*FIRE*WATER*ÆTHER (Grey Books Press, 2015). Candice currently resides in Lawrence, Kansas where she teaches creative writing and composition at the University of Kansas. Find her at